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FIRST LOOK: Ford resurrects the Ranger

Ford’s once-popular Ranger small pickup makes a comeback as a mid-size model

Clare Dear
Published: January 13, 2018, 2:40 PM
Updated: August 15, 2018, 8:09 PM

2019 Ford Ranger

DETROIT, MI – Ford’s once-popular small pickup, the Ranger, is poised to make a comeback. Although dropped from the Ford lineup in 2011 as consumer preferences shifted from compact to full-size trucks, the Ranger is being revived to meet the booming demands of a new generation of mid-size truck buyers who are seeking pickups that are more maneuverable and fuel-efficient. Sales in the mid-size segment are up 83% in the U.S. since 2014  

The 2019 Ford Ranger, which will be introduced at the North American International Auto Show, is now a mid-size truck, engineered by North America’s pickup sales leader.

It features a new exterior design, highlighted by a high beltline that is said to emphasize strength, while the raked grille and windshield are intended to create an athletic appearance, as well as aiding aerodynamics and reducing wind noise.

From the rear, the Ranger nameplate is stamped into the tailgate, while the tailgate itself is designed to handle people and cargo. The truck’s high ground clearance and short overhangs help it clear obstacles in off-road use.

A strong high-strength steel frame forms the backbone of the truck, with frame-mounted steel front and rear bumpers. An available integrated trailer hitch receiver helps make towing campers, ATVs or watercraft a breeze.

Single powertrain offering

The new Ranger has a single powertrain package under its twin-power-dome hood: Ford’s 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, mated a 10-speed automatic transmission – an exclusive in the segment.

The engine features direct fuel injection, a twin-scroll turbocharger and four valves per cylinder, for enhanced efficiency and capability. For added durability, there are a forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods and chain-driven dual overhead cams. While specific horsepower and torque numbers aren’t available yet, Ford says the 2.3-litre EcoBoost provides torque that’s on par with competing V-6 engines, while delivering the efficiency of a four-cylinder.

Power is distributed through Dana Trac-Lok differentials with an available electronic-locking rear differential (standard on the FX4 off-road package) for increased all-terrain traction. Ranger’s four-wheel-drive versions offer 2-high, 4-high and 4-low ranges.

Multiple models

The Ranger will be offered in two cab configurations – SuperCab or SuperCrew – and three trim levels: the base XL, mid-range XLT and premium Lariat trim with available Chrome and Sport appearance packages, as well as an FX4 off-road package.

The FX4 Off-Road Package provides additional trail capability with off-road-tuned shock absorbers, all-terrain tires, a frame-mounted heavy-gauge steel front bash plate, frame-mounted skid plates and FX4 badging.

The package also features an innovative Terrain Management System similar to the one in the F-150 Raptor. It includes four drive modes – normal; grass, gravel and snow; mud and ruts; and sand. The system can shift on the fly to automatically change throttle responsiveness, transmission gearing and vehicle controls to tailor traction, drivability and performance to any given terrain or weather condition.      

The FX4 package also introduces Ford’s new Trail Control technology. It functions similar to cruise control for the highway, but is designed for low-speed, rugged terrain. The system takes over acceleration and braking, sending power and braking to each individual wheel so drivers can focus on steering.

Crammed with content

Inside the cab, the interior blends comfort and functionality with room for up to five people and their gear. The centre stack includes an 8.0-inch touch screen for the available SYNC 3 system, while the instrument cluster features dual LCD productivity screens for real-time vehicle, navigation and audio information.

The Ranger is packed with driver-assist, passenger convenience and connectivity technologies, such as standard automatic emergency braking, available SYNC 3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, an available FordPass Connect 4G LTE modem that provides Wi-Fi access for up to 10 devices, available AC power outlets for charging laptops and USB outlets that provide more options for passengers to connect.

The available B&O PLAY premium audio system is specially tuned for the Ranger cab to deliver a rich and engaging listening experience.

Additional driver-assist technologies standard on XLT and Lariat trim levels include lane keeping assist and lane departure warning, a reverse sensing system and class-exclusive blind spot information system with trailer coverage. Additional driver-assist technologies standard on the Lariat include pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control.

Additional features on the new Ranger include optional LED headlamps and taillamps, optional exterior lighting that includes puddle lamps and lighting for the cargo bed, and Ford’s available Smart Trailer Tow connector that alerts drivers to faulty trailer connections.

The 2019 Ranger will begin to roll off the assembly line late this year at Ford’s Michigan Plant.